U.S. Ambassador to OSCE calls on Russia to stop the senseless campaign against Jehovah's Witnesses in Crimea
He said this during a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna, Krym.Realii news outlet reports.
"Four people were arrested on charges of "extremism" just because they professed their faith. This reflects very poorly on Russia's attitude towards people in Europe. This is a constant problem. We reaffirm that people have the right to freedom of religion and call on Russia to stop a senseless campaign against Jehovah's Witnesses who pose no danger or harm to the occupying authorities or anyone else", James Gilmore said.
The U.S. ambassador also added that the Russian authorities continue to persecute Crimean Tatars.
He also recalled the conscription of Crimean residents into the Russian army, noting that these actions are contrary to international law.
Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia reported that Russian security forces conducted searches in the annexed city of Sevastopol on October 1. Later it became known about the detention of five people and the initiation of criminal proceedings against four Jehovah's Witnesses.
On October 2, the Russian-controlled Leninsky District Court of Sevastopol arrested four detained representatives of the religious organization Jehovah's Witnesses. Yevheniy Zhukov, Volodymyr Sakad and Volodymyr Maladyk were detained until November 30, and Igor Schmidt - until November 23.
There are no public comments from Russian security officials regarding the searches in Sevastopol.
The prosecutor's office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol instituted criminal proceedings on the fact that Russian security forces conducted new searches at the homes of Jehovah's witnesses in Sevastopol.
Representatives of the religious organization call such events a "raid" and a continuation of systematic persecution for the faith.